My Favourite Influencer

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I’ve started my second #100daysproject of 2019. Joining in with the official challenge, #The100dayproject, I’ve decided to focus on created images where I see myself reflected, #100daysofblackwomen.
I’ve purposely not set up any long, drawn out rules. All I have to do each day is create a face or figure of a black woman. Far too often in art, if a Black Woman is present, she is not represented in an empowering or positive way. She might be the servant, or a sexualised object, ridiculed and degraded.
I want to look upon art and see my multifaceted identity reflected; the good and bad, the truth.
It’s only been in the last few years really that I’ve embraced this practice of creating, painting black women. I know taking Painting the Feminine with Dirty Footprint Studios, hosted by Connie Solera has influenced this development. Creating within a supportive group of women and gently pushed into our own ideas of what femininity can be has been a catalyst for
my explorations and expressions.
A recent discovery has pushed me further into my own visual language. This has been finding the artwork of Mystele Kirkeeng and then watching her create her pieces.
Watching Mystele and learning about her practice and techniques gave me permission to trust my own messy process. Seeing her process made me value my own for the first time and to lean into it more. It’s such a glorious feeling to finally believe in what I create at the same time as not worrying or stressing about whatever anyone else thinks about my artwork. Mystele reminds of the joy and excitement I can have for my own creativity. And this is priceless.

A favourite quote …

It’s difficult to pin down my one and only favourite quote as I love so many. I use quotes as inspiration, as thought points, as guides.

At the beginning of each Studio Note I send out to subscribers, I include a quote, to set the tone, to ease into the topic of discussion.

Toni Morrison is always a favourite writer I quote because it was her book, The Bluest Eye, where I first found myself in literature. Before that, I always had to identify with the white female lead in the story. I found myself wishing I was something I was not; white, blond and blue eyed. In The Bluest Eye, I found myself, a little black girl growing up in a cruel, racist world, thinking if only she was white, then she’d be loved.

My quote isn’t from The Bluest Eye this time but it does touch upon this topic of self-love; my focus this year as my word is LOVE for 2019.

“In this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face ’cause they don’t love that either. You got to love it, you! And no, they ain’t in love with your mouth. Yonder, out there, they will see it broken and break it again. What you say out of it they will not heed. What you scream from it they do not hear. What you put into it to nourish your body they will snatch away and give you leavins instead. No, they don’t love your mouth. You got to love it. This is flesh I’m talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I’m telling you. And O my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. and all your inside parts that they’d just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver–love it, love it and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.”

Toni Morrison, Beloved

Where I work

I wish I could display a wide open space with large tables, easels, storage for paintings and tools. With natural light streaming through so many windows that the space is forever bright. But I can’t.

I can’t afford a studio. If I’m organised, I can use the spare room which is my son’s room when he returns for visits from Uni. But recently, it’s become a dumping ground for when I’ve come in from an event or job and I’m too tired to sort out my bags. The room soon becomes unable to get into and the clutter enters my mind.

I’m much better being a mobile artist. Packing a bag and going to a hotel room to work is my ideal working space. And recently with having to travel for union work and family gatherings, I’ve managed to monopolise clean and white hotel rooms to create colourful, vibrate paintings be that my abstracts or my portraits of black women. And it has been welcomed and liberating.

So yes I don’t have a regular space to create at home but I don’t allow that to stop me from continuing to explore my visual language.

Remembering last year

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A year ago, March, I was on an artist residency in the #westfjordsiceland – remember? I created this time and space alone for me from scratch because I wanted to return and experience Iceland again after my island tour.
Wow want a difference a year makes. I got lost a bit out there, in the dark and desolate place. But I also found out stuff about myself; that I love solitude, exploring new places, and sharing my joy on my own terms. I’m planning on doing just that in June, when we have a #summersolstice creative retreat happening in #Iceland. This is going to be an intimate affair. Only space for 5 women, including me. It’s half filled already. Writing, art, yoga, nature, Wild swimming, good food, good company, laughter and no doubt tears.
If you’ve been itching to visit Iceland, this is your opportunity. Time away from your everyday,experiencing the sublime within a supportive sisterhood as well as space and time for solitude. As I said, I like my solitude and breathing space. Just to be. Check out the details in my profile. DM if you have any questions. #practice #visualjournal #selfportraitureasmedicine #seeingmyself #wildawimming #outdoors #womenscreativity #walkingwriting #walkingwomen #creativeretreaticeland #icelandcreativeretreat
 

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1. Re-entry into my everyday after being away is harsh.
2. The sun glows low.
3. We walk the shore alone and smell the waves.
4. My everyday life is full of kinks.
5. The terns dance within the foam.
6. Strong black coffee steams.
7. Luther Vandross ‘Searching’ on the radio.
8. Emails plying up as is the washing.
9. Box set bingeing late into the night.
10. Not ready to start it all again tomorrow.

Talking about my practice

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This is a visual journal entry I completed a few months ago while continuing with my Creative Facilitator Training with Lisa Sonora

22/04/2017

It feels weird coming back to DOP ( Dreaming on Paper) after two years absence. I’ve tried to do it again but just didn’t get into it. But now I’m doing the Facilitator Training, it seems important to get back in. I need to post to the group.

Yes I’m skipping through at a pace as I still do the techniques I learnt back then but it’s good to be refreshed on the techniques I haven’t done in a while -like the stamping as well as the textured page, the wallpaper and marbled effect. I haven’t used a wet one in a while or the stripped effect so it’s good to do this and to not feel any fear but be comfortable with it – like second nature.

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So yes weird but also reassuring that a lot of the habits and techniques have stayed and also how far I have developed since the beginning with flaps* and stuff, and extensions and tearings and pockets and stuff. I’m proud of myself I am, of my progress and practice. I’ve come a long way in the journey and I’m still on it. Thank God.’


*flaps = additional pages added to the journal, see visual journalling post for further explanation.


Technique:

The journals I use most frequently are the Pink Pig pads. I usually pick these up in town, not online, bought three at a time because there is usually a discount on them and they definitely have more pages in.

I prepare my pages with paint ahead of the time I want to use them. So when a journal is coming to the end, I start prepping the next one with paint, so it’s ready with no breaks in between.

I pick the colours that are calling to be at the time. Here for this page the dominate colour is bright orange. I use ready mixed paints, craft paints, kids paint and start with just one drop of paint in the middle of the page. I smear it across the blank page with a disused credit card. I love this part. The spread of colour makes me happy. A simple task, a simple pleasure but oodles of fun.

I’ve gone on to add pink and blue to the orange after this. Using the same credit card for each colour, sometimes all paint rubbed off before a new colour is introduced and sometimes not. I’m not doing this to be neat, to cover away all the white of the page. I like my smearing of paint to be quick and messy.

Sometimes I do right up the edges sometimes not. I prepare three double spread pages at a time and then leave them to dry, sketchbook open with a paint bottle propped between the pages either side so they don’t stick together.

Once dried, I can write on it. Gel pen was used here but ball point pen works just as well. Here I’ve added images of nature and travel and adventure at the bottom of the page. I use glue sticks. I’m not loyal to any particular brand either as long as it does the sticking. These were cut from a tourist leaflet about visiting Scotland.

The images I select usually tie in with what I’m writing, they talk to each other. While sometimes they don’t and this might because I’ve skipped ahead in my journal and stuck in some images to break up the page already. But all the images I include I love, I have an emotional connection to. I’ll talk more about that in another post.

After the writing, I return to the page and use the leaf shaped stamp. See what I did there? I wrote in this journal example about the techniques I haven’t been using in a while and rubber stamping was one of them. I rectified that here.

journey

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You jump on a white minibus. You wind your way through snow covered mountains. Sometimes hugging the shoreline. Other times squeezing through valleys between peaks. On your right are steep sheets of white. On your left white steel sheet reversed. Partly frozen fjords.
Some birds decide to walk on ice while others swim in the small circles of bubbling water. You have to respect ice.

Filigree within ice
beautiful and vulnerable
strong to the point of entry

April – A Poem A Day

Adrift in the Wilderness

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Surrounded by white upon white. Cold biting at all exposed flesh. Eyes search for some familiar sign even though this is my first visit to the Westfjords. Something, anything to anchor the self in place as I float unhinged from all that I know and all that I feel. Fear swims into this pause. Into this solitude. What happens if I don’t like what I find in this time and space alone? What if I don’t like who I am?

on one of lampposts
along the slushy street
a raven grates out kraaa

 

April – A Poem A Day

Time and Space

Things haven’t been going to plan recently. No correct that. There’s been no plan. There’s been little reflection on my life, on things that are happening. Things are happening to me. It hasn’t felt as if I’ve been in the driving seat of my life. I’ve just had to get on with things. The things that have been demanding my time and attention. All full-time work related. Things I don’t really want to do. But if I want to keep my job, things I have to do.

So because of this scarcity of time and energy, all creative ideas and projects have been put on the back burner. At one point I was getting annoyed about this. And I must say to live with me was hell. But then I remembered HERE. Here I am on hiatus from creative stuff. I gave myself permission to be creative. But when I got into the thick of things, I forgot my commitment to self. Remembering eased the pressure slightly. But it didn’t make me feel any better as I know I am at my best when I am lost in the creating.

I am in the state of waiting until this chapter of my life ends and I can get back to making big shakes in terms of getting to know myself better. Until I can get back to sharing my story, I am waiting. I am practicing waiting as patience is not part of my make up. But during this process, this muscle is being strengthened. So maybe at the end of this phase I can celebrate my developing patience. We’ll see soon enough.

time and space